2012 DOMAINE ARNOUX-LACHAUX Vosne Romanee Les Hautes Maizieres

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Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux
2012
Vosne-Romanée "Les Hautes Maizières"  
Villages Red barrel
Score: 89-91
Tasted: Jan 15, 2014
Drink: 2020+
Issue: 53
Outstanding Top value

Note: 40% whole cluster
Producer note: There has been a sea change here as Pascal Lachaux' son Charles has now taken over responsibility for the vinifications. To be sure Pascal is still very much involved in running the domaine though it seems clear that little by little Charles will eventually assume the mantle of directing it. One of the major changes he has instituted is that most wines in the portfolio were vinified with a minimum of 30% whole clusters and the Reignots was vinified with 100%. The younger Lachaux describes 2012 as a "tough vintage from a weather and viticultural standpoint but we reacted well. Moreover our policy of growing grasses between the rows once again saved us as they really soak up excess water. This helps to avoid over production in some vintages plus we consistently have less concerns with rot relative to those vineyards which do not use this approach. Unfortunately no strategy can effectively combat a poor flowering and it's a sad truth that the flowering in 2012 did not pass well due to cold temperatures. Across the board we were down fully 40% and as much as 70% in Suchots. On the plus side the low crop load allowed the fruit to attain an excellent level of phenolic maturity. It was this high level of phenolic maturity that persuaded me to use a whole cluster approach to our vinifications and I'm very happy that I did as the wines have energy and a certain sweetness that makes them appealing, at least to my taste." I have to agree with Charles that his approach worked exceptionally well. However I would point out that long-term fans of the domaine will find the 2012s to be stylistically different from that which was extant in prior vintages. I would also like to laud the quality of the domaine's 2011s as they are terrific and while I wouldn't say that they are better than the 2012s, they are certainly competitive with them. The 2011s, some of which I revisited below, were bottled in February 2013. Note that this domaine used to be called Robert Arnoux. (Purveyor of Fine Wines, www.winepurveyors.com, New Orleans, LA, Veritas Imports, www.veritaswine.com, CA, David Bowler Wine, www.bowlerwine.com, NY, NY, Favorite Brands, LLC., www.favoritebrands.org, Dallas, TX; Diva Beaune S.A.S., www.divawine.com, France; John Armit Wines, www.armit.co.uk, Private Cellar Ltd., www.privatecellar.co.uk, Laytons, www.laytons.co.uk, Clarion Wines, www.clarionwines.co.uk and Bibendum Wine Ltd., www.bibendum-wine.co.uk, all UK).
Tasting note: Here too the reduction is sufficiently strong as to make a proper assessment of the nose impossible. There is a bit more size and weight to the medium-bodied flavors that possess a robust, even muscular mouth feel before terminating in a powerful and moderately austere finish that delivers fine length for a villages level wine. This too is worth a look.